today i said i say

INCREMENTAL SHIVERS FOR NAPO 2013

[song. for now.]

i am working on a song with shrewd and the boys and yesterday we were trying to figure out the chords. it’s not as simple as usually my songs are [G - D - C - E, alt F - Am - C - Em]. maybe it’s not even my song, maybe it’s something i heard somewhere and forgot about and regurgitated in my brain. remember the time that Helen Keller did that with a children’s book and then Alexander Graham Bell, a great admirer of hers, stood with her? or did that not happen either? all i know is that Helen Keller didn’t mean to crib, and neither do i.

the chords aren’t cyclical, Guitar Bear said [not his real name]. it’s old - old stuff like what Billie Holiday sings. when something is that old —

the statute of limitations has past on cribbing, you mean, I said. [I always do this - interrupt people and finish their sentences. i mean to show I am listening ACTIVELY, but really it is pretty rude, and I am trying to adjust.]

i want to write more than just one song; i want to fill up sheets of vellum and emboss the words with gold and lapis lazuli. Or something.

but it’s hard to start making beautiful things when you are not sure when you will die.

she rests a fortnight on her shin

the one bruised in battle with a standard

mop, her teeth gritted in knuckle rage

gray water spilled on the floor

like an envoy of darkness, of a priori

doom. she runs a thousand sidewalk slabs

to stop her flesh from turning gelatinous,

and when she raises her head

there is night rain to meet her

and the leaves on the trees move

like the wings of insects, loving, swarming.

and her shadow will lie on the porch

for the sun, and above her face, pale stone.

i want to be

better

i want

to be

better

i

want

to

be

bet

ter

Before the crash

When I was born

The sparrows and the larks

Tasted blood on their tongues

A slip on a stone

I fell from the oak tree’s shoulder

Into the blue lap of lake wave

 

Jut and jeer, my monkey face,

Peers, craven and caned,

Stealing from my cousin’s cave,

It’s all dark in there, but for the jurors,

Staring down from stalagmite eaves.

 

Chin up, baby, mother said,

I’ll break your bread for you every day,

Till you grow seven fingers for each plant

To peel the orange rind earth,

Pulpy root, worm, pip, and pebble,

 

Grow as tall as banyan,

Taste stream and runnel and then rain,

Tipple in the rivulet and were and wold,

Roots on roots, grow seed and sow,

Until the moon slips into the sun.

betrayal

Tripping over the same

Cracks

Spilling the same cup,

Into the same lap

White linens stained a

Ripped plum black

I don’t think anymore,

That brain lacks tact

Apt to divulge more pain than promise

So I would not have me honest.

she call go

There’s a windstruck city by a lake,

It doesn’t keep me well

I gave it my name once

While plinths of ice shouldered

Each other in the black water,

“Have you got it?” I asked the next summer,

And the city said nothing, whirring

Self-satisfied circles around my feet

But I didn’t move at all

Like a madwoman, I watched my heart

Sail into the water, sail and sink.

eva

i tucked my legs under me

a cool suspension so you can see why

the wild cats are partial to me,

batted my eyes so these coffee stains

seem elegiac and serene,

it’s not urine dripping from my jeans

but the whole human comedy,

and it smells like god’s tears,

i tuck my hair behind my ear

so to better engender a type of

nublie bravery, or whatever a heroine

needs these days to make bank,

don’t you like my little stockings?

my pearl earring? my missing rib?

when i was 17

romance, is dead,

i said to the man in the battered fedora

while we sat and waited

for the last metro out of paris

he plucked the air like an old guitar

to the accordion player at the corner

while we sat and contemplated

the row of stars rising in the sky

may 13

there are moments when it seems the whole world is a hallucination, that if I could find the loose thread and tug, it would come unraveling around me like a dream unravels in the light of day: quickly, irrevocably. that i would bathe in tumbling relief, wash off the gross remembrance of this false universe.

but i am reasonably certain that it is reality i am witnessing right now, that i will not wake up. the world begets me in the morning, a tremor, quivering and rigid, like a warbling bow. it is not that i have lost the moral compass, merely that it seems unimportant, the root of nothing, simply a measuring spoon to a recipe I have no intention of making.

There is a crow that frequents the branches outside my office window. He is a stupendous specimen - glossy and black, as big as a cat. His feathers throw a liquid sheen, ruffled around his neck like a fur muff. He makes for a fine contrast to the mild pink and green blush of the trees. He is such a living thing; there is purpose and caution in his movements, the kind that pervades all wild things. I wait for him through the paneled glass. I can feel the leaves growing and stretching in the cold May air.

    Does a fish ever tire of being a fish? Does it ever feel even a moment’s frustration that it is limited to its inherently fishy form? Does it ever the icthyopodal equivalent of an epiphany?
He asked us. Shall I show him, I think? Shall I let the growths on my back break through my skin in a spurt of blood and begin to expand, tier off into branch after branch, until each is taller than myself, hung with sinew and ligament, a shell of down and then of feathers, until I can lift off from seat and break from this immense gravity?

My bones have separated from my flesh. The space between is bereft of tendon and blood, a thin wailing vacuum.

my may song


She pulled out her heart
From a walnut shell
The size of a baby fist
The color of river sand
Rubbled like a picked plum

That seagull’s got at it, got at it,
Take a run and break your limbs
The sea shore is slick and deadly
To your little girl feet
Floundering in the pools of slippery green
While that bird is keeling, keening,
Tending to your heart with its beak

Down on the wholesome streets
They pretend to drop dead
Licking the sidewalk once in the summer heat
Prickled her tongue on mica sweets
Scrubbed like a day old beard

That madman’s got at it, got at it,
And he’s a-sprinting down the alley
Long grows his shadow and then longer
When the earth rolls into the second night
Don’t chase after, little girl fleet,
The streets will run you ragged
While he croons above you, having grown wings